Technical Debt is Not Only about Code and We Need to Be Aware about It


Context: It is common for a software project to incur technical debt (TD) during its development. It can impact several artifacts produced throughout the software development process. Therefore, it is necessary to carry out management actions to find a balance between the benefits of incurring it and the effects of its presence. However, so far, much of the attention has been given only to discussions relating TD to coding issues. This is a worrying scenario because other types of debt can also have impactful, or even worse, consequences on projects. Aims: This study elaborates on the need to consider other issues of the development process and not just the source-code when investigating the TD phenomenon. Method: We analyze responses from 653 practitioners concerning TD causes, effects, prevention, reasons for non-prevention, repayment, and reasons for non-repayment and investigate whether these TD management elements are related to coding or to other software development issues. Results: Coding issues are commonly related to the investigated elements but, indeed, they are only part of the big picture we draw. Issues related to the project planning and management, human factors, knowledge, quality, process, requirements, verification, validation, and test, design, architecture, TD management, and the organization are also common. Lastly, we present a hump diagram that, in combination with the detailed results, provides guidance on what to expect from the presence of TD and how to react to it considering several issues of software development. Conclusion: The results shed light on other concerns beyond code that the research community and practitioners need to be aware of.

Tipo de publicación: Conference Paper

Publicado en: XX Brazilian Symposium on Software Quality

  • Berenguer, Clara
  • Borges, Adriano
  • Freire, Sávio
  • Rios, Nicolli
  • Tausan, Nebojsa
  • Ramac, Robert
  • Pérez, Boris
  • Castellanos, Camilo
  • Correal, Darío
  • Pacheco, Alexia
  • López, Gustavo
  • Falessi, Davide
  • Seaman, Carolyn
  • Mandic, Vladimir
  • Izurieta, Clemente
  • Spínola, Rodrigo

Investigadores del CITIC asociados a la publicación
Dr. Gustavo López Herrera

Proyecto asociado a la publicación
Fortalecimiento de la capacidad de desarrollo, adopción y mantenimiento de software del Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad

Palabras claves
  • Causes
  • Effects
  • Technical debt management


Datos bibliográficos
Cita bibliográfica
Technical Debt is Not Only about Code and We Need to Be Aware about It